We are at that time of year again when there are sniffles and coughs spreading like wildfire! The last thing active people want is to catch the dreaded lurgy – because that means (or should mean!) time away from training, or at least less effective training. We spoke to Sophie, our in-house nutritionist, to give you the run down on her top tips to avoid coming down with a bug …
You may remember a recent blog I wrote that introduced a concept called the J-shaped curve. This concept explains that whilst moderate amounts and intensities of exercise are good for keeping a healthy immune system, excessive or intensive exercise can actually dampen our immune system. So we need all the help we can get to help keep our bodies healthy.
So what can we do to help avoid catching those bugs?
I’m afraid to say there are no magic bullets when it comes to nutrition and immune health. But, that being said, feeding your body with the right foods will go a long way and give you the best odds!
Here are my top 3 nutritional tips to focus on:
- Keeping your body adequately fuelled. Exercise stresses the immune system, and if you don’t eat adequate energy and carbohydrates this stress is added too. Stress can dampen our immune responses, which can heighten our risk of infection – so make sure you’re eating regularly and re-fuelling adequately after heavy training sessions. A nice warming vegetable soup made with lentils or sweet potato with a piece of wholegrain bread to dunk is a great option. Click here to see Kate’s most recent soup recipe.
- Don’t forget to eat the rainbow. There is an array of vitamins and minerals that help keep your immune system functioning well – so make sure you don’t go short on these by making sure you eat your 5-a-day. This will ensure you get adequate levels of these vitamins, like vitamin C and vitamin A (in the form of Beta carotene) and minerals like iron.
- Get fibre happy. The majority of your immune system lives in the gut, so we need to keep it healthy with the foods we eat. Fibre plays a big role here so getting in some healthy prebiotics in the form of plant-based foods is a wise move. This means not only your 5-a-day as above (bananas and apples are great prebiotic foods) but also foods like oats and grains (such as barley).
Don’t forget nutrition is only part of the puzzle. Make sure you take adequate R&R – which not only means lower intensity days and rest days, but also adequate sleep. Oh, and you might want an antibacterial gel if you’re travelling on the tube too!
(Go Faster Food Nutritionist)